By Rachael Grealish
While many businesses ultimately succumbed to the devastating impact of the pandemic, one Whitehaven pub didn’t only fight through but managed to celebrate their birthday in style.
Liz Cannon and Danny Maudling opened the doors to The Yellow Earl back in 2017 and this weekend, August bank holiday, celebrated the venue’s fourth birthday – a miraculous feat after 18 months at the mercy of COVID-19.
But, how do they do it? How does a business not only survive through the pandemic but completely bounce bank? Well, according to Liz it’s all about the music.
Music has been the drive which took the business owners from event organisers to full music venue directors.
Liz said: “After years of doing gigs in Whitehaven and up at The Old Fire Station, in Carlisle, then doing [BOOF] festivals and everything else it made sense for us to want our own venue to do music events in.”
The 27-year-old explained although she’d excelled at her web design degree at university, her heart wasn’t ever really in that, it was in music event’s – and after years of being one of the organisers behind the successful West Cumbrian BOOF Festival there’s no surprise.
“The chance to open my own business doing what I’d loved for the previous six years seemed a perfect fit,” she added
And, on a rainy autumn day, in 2016, history was made and Cumbria’s ‘Yellow Earl’ was about to breathe new life in Whitehaven – in pub form.
Liz said: ‘We decided on a rainy afternoon in November 2016 to book a viewing of the building and by December 16 we had decided we were doing it.”
It wasn’t all plain sailing, the original planned opening date for the venue was the first bank holiday of 2017 – but this was pushed back to the last August bank holiday.
However, as Liz said, it was ‘worth the wait’.
“It was worth the wait in the end. We did a lot of the stuff ourselves to keep costs down – if I never have to strip 100 years of paint again it’ll be too soon,” Liz added.
Since opening, The Yellow Earl has played host to an amazing and colourful scope of bands and artists.
From the national number one single punk-indie band Twisted Wheel to local legends Northern Threads, The Yellow Earl has become a must for artists to perform in, in Whitehaven.
And, this was always the plan for the venue’s success, Liz explained.
“Music is and always has been our main focus and driving force over everything,” she said.
“The opportunity to showcase brilliant local talent on a weekly basis as well as bringing bigger named acts to the town is great.
But, in March 2020 the world stood still as the COVID pandemic meant we all had to stay at home.
“From going 100 miles an hour, everyday, to nothing was a big adjustment,” Liz said, talking about the moment all non-essential businesses, like the Earl, were forced to close.
She said: “I won’t lie, at first it was nice to have some time off but that soon died off and we were itching to get back open, then having Christmas closed up was a strange one – one we will hopefully never experience again.”
When restrictions began to lift The Yellow Earl was one of the fortunate businesses able to reopen early on due to a ‘pretty big and versatile space’ making it ‘easy for us to convert to fit the new regulations’.
Liz commented: “I’ll be honest, I enjoyed everyone booking tables and being sat down at first! But now we’ve gone back to normal it feels so much better. And less having to worry about 100 plus bookings per day.”
So, what is Liz and Danny’s secret to not only bouncing back but making it through to the pub’s birthday after all that? Well, it’s music and looking to the future.
Liz said: ‘Like I said – music is our driving force. We’ve had so long off we just want to get going again and the boof and the pub being back to normal keeps us both going.
“Never lose hope and always look to the future. Where there’s a will there’s a way.”
Over this bank holiday weekend everyone at The Yellow Earl welcomes customers to celebrate with them with a local band, Little Lies, performing on Friday August 27, a Beatles tribute tonight, Saturday August 28, and a 90s v 00s night tomorrow, Sunday August 29.
Looking to the future Liz and Danny have plenty planned for The Yellow Earl – from top bands, like Bad Nerves, set to rock the pub next month, to opening up the venue for band rehearsal space*, there’s plenty on the horizon to look forward to.
Happy birthday to The Yellow Earl and congratulations on making it through the pandemic – cheers!
If your business is reaching a birthday/milestone/target please let us know so we can do an article about it, supporting Cumbrian businesses and communities.
*for information about booking rehearsal spaces email firstname.lastname@example.org